Legend has it that Paul Bunyan was in Minnesota for "the year of two winters," when lumberjacks' beards grew so long that they knit the ends of them into socks.
We think that there might be a little exaggeration built into that tale, but we know for sure that no embellishment is needed when describing the trials of this winter.
The arrival of the spring equinox Thursday makes it official: We survived the most brutal winter in recent memory, enduring all sorts of things we haven't experienced before and, in the process, even learning a new term: polar vortex. (That's meteorological jargon for what our grandparents used to call "#@$%$#& cold.")
Unlike Paul's winter horror story, ours is documented by fact. Here's a by-the-numbers look at the winter we can be proud to say we made it through.
50: total days with lows below zero
17: consecutive days of subzero lows
21: days with lows below zero in an average year
May 3: Last snow of last winter
Nov. 3: First snow of this winter
6: More weeks of snow than usual
9,361: Minneapolis cars towed for snow-related violations
23: days with windchill warnings
Minus 25: temperature at which windchill warnings are issued
6: weather-related school closings in Minneapolis and Rochester …
7: … and in Duluth
700: frozen home water pipes in St. Paul's Regional Water System
159,463: heating failure service calls to CenterPoint Energy
225: frostbite cases at HCMC (Jan. and Feb.)
95.7: percent of Lake Superior iced over
61: inches of total snowfall as of March 19
24: inches of snow at its greatest depth, Feb. 21
You made it. Congratulations!
Well, almost. At 11:57 a.m. Thursday, spring will begin. Because you made it through the harshest winter in more than 30 years, you deserve a medal. And we've got one for you. Just save and upload this blue ribbon into your Facebook or Twitter feed, and display it with pride.